The calendar may say that spring has started, but Mother Nature doesn’t seem to be on the same page as we got hit with more snow and cold weather recently. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel - before we know it we will be enjoying the warmth, sunshine, and beauty of our picturesque Hudson Valley. Already, the days are getting longer making for pleasant evenings and the opportunity to spend time outdoors after a day at work.
Unfortunately, one of the realities of spring, especially after a cold, snowy winter in the Hudson Valley, is the threat of flooding. In fact, March 18 - 22 was National Flood Awareness Week as recognized by the National Weather Service. The Orange County Office of Emergency Management cautions residents to take the threat of flooding seriously and to make preparations in advance. Consider these tips to help you prepare:
• Learn the safest route from your home or business to high, safe ground should you have to leave in a hurry.
• Develop and practice a ‘family escape’ plan and identify a meeting place if family members become separated.
• Make an itemized list of valuables. Keep the list in a safe place.
• Stockpile emergency supplies of drinking water, canned food, medicine and first aid supplies.
• Have a plan in place for your pets.
• Have a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries and emergency cooking equipment available.
• Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to pump fuel for several days. Keep a small disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.
• Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels. When flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.
• Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber handy for emergencies.
During SuperStorm Sandy, we were pleased to find that the Orange County Emergency Management Facebook page was an excellent source of current information for residents. Even those who were without power were able to keep on top of recovery efforts through their smart phones. Be sure to follow them on Facebook for useful updates and information.
March is also Brain Injury Awareness month. This is an issue of critical importance, especially to the health and well-being of our young people. Brain injury, which includes concussions, is the leading cause of death and disability for young people in the United States. Every 40 seconds an American youth enters an emergency room with a new brain injury; more than 80,000 young people are hospitalized by these injuries; and, tragically, more than 11,000 American youth die due to a brain injury. As a former coach and physical education teacher, I urge you to make sure that your children and athletes wear the appropriate head gear and protective equipment to avoid becoming one of these statistics. To learn more about brain injury, and what can be done to prevent it, visit the Brain Injury Association of America’s website at www.biausa.org.
March is also National Professional Social Work Month, which celebrates the hard work and accomplishments of one of the nation’s largest professions. Social workers are caring, committed people who work to help others function better in their environments and manage the challenges and opportunities that come with daily life. They strive to meet the needs of individuals of all ages, families, and communities. We appreciate all that our friends and neighbors in the social work profession contribute to the residents of Orange County each and every day.
Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.